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Dr. Munje (Moonje)

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Balakrishna Shivarama Munje (bālakṛṣṇa śivarāma muňje) (12 December 1872–3 March 1948) was a famous Indian freedom fighter.

He was born at Bilaspur, currently in Chattisgarh state. He completed his Medical Degree from Grant Medical College in Mumbai in 1898 and was employed in Bombay Municipal Corporation as a Medical Officer on a handsome salary. He left this peaceful and dignified job to participate in the Boer War in South Africa through the Medical Wing as the King’s Commissioned Officer because of his keen interest in Military Life. After returning from South Africa, he started his medical practice at Nagpur.

Dr. Moonje was a prominent freedom fighter and a strong supporter of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The Congress Party’s annual session was held at Surat (Gujarat) in 1907. Trouble broke out between the Moderate (Soft Faction) and the Extremist (Hot Faction) factions of the Congress party over the selection of a new President. The Congress party split into two factions. The extremists were led by the triumvirate of Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipinchandra Pal (known as LAL-BAL-PAL). Dr Moonje and his followers literally gave physical protection to Tilak when he was attacked by few people throwing chairs and stones. From then onwards, the relationship between Tilak and Moonje became very close. Dr. Moonje toured the entire Central India and collected huge funds for Tilak on many occasions. Dr. Moonje also introduced Ganesh and Shivaji Festivals in Central India and also accompanied Tilak to Calcutta for this purpose. He was The General Secretary of Central Indian Provincial Congress for many years.

In the year 1920 the Indian National Congress had planned its annual session at Nagpur. Lokmanya Tilak was elected to preside over the session. Unfortunately he passed away suddenly. Dr. Moonje decided to persuade Sri Aurobindo to return to British India and accept the leadership of the Congress. In his trip to Pondicherry he was accompanied by Dr.Hedgewar. Sri Aurobindo was firm on his resolve to remain in Pondicherry and gently declined the invitation.

Later Dr. Munje sent a telegram to renew the offer and Sri Aurobindo replied on August 30, 1920, giving a number of reasons for not being able to accept it. ’The central reason however,’ he wrote, ’is this that I am no longer first and foremost a politician, but have definitely commenced another kind of work with a spiritual basis, a work of spiritual, social, cultural and economic reconstruction of an almost revolutionary kind, and am even making or at least supervising a sort of practical or laboratory experiment in that sense which needs all the attention and energy that I can have to spare.’

After the death of Tilak in 1920, Dr. Moonje dissociated from Congress. He disagreed with the two main policies of M. K. Gandhi, namely his non-violence and pro-Muslim policy. He took up the Hindu Cause and continued to pursue it till his death in 1948.


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